Saturday, February 15, 2014

Every Student Apartment Is Not Nittany Pointe

Nittany Pointe made the Altoona Mirror again.  Logan Township is apparently considering a student rental inspection program that consists of things like this:
"In the rules outlined in a 25-page document, the township declares that landlords renting to two or more unrelated students in a dwelling will be responsible for disruptive conduct that occurs on their premises." - Kay Stephens, Altoona Mirror
If you check out the Altoona Mirror article you'll see that Logan Township supervisors keep saying "landlords", but it always comes back to Nittany Pointe, and indeed it always will.  Unlike State College, which is a college student's paradise, Altoona has just the one absentee-landlord-student-house-mega-complex: Nittany Pointe.  Hardly a semester, leave alone a year, goes by that there isn't some unseemly fracas up at "the Pointe", as it is colloquially known.  A cursory search at the Altoona Mirror's website associates Nittany Pointe with binge-drinking, rape, riots, and general uproar.  It's hard to imagine how a town like State College, where you can hardly turn around without seeing one of these places, hasn't burned to the ground yet.  And yet, it hasn't.  

While it's certainly true that places like Nittany Pointe should face scrutiny over the unruly behavior of their tenants, it's worth pointing out again that it is the only student focused apartment complex of its size in the Altoona area.  It has, according to the Mirror article, 156 units of much-needed student housing space.  I say much needed because it is not easy to find student housing in Altoona.  On-campus housing has a mile-long wait-list and certain local supervisors always seem to be looking for ways to penalize students just for being students.  

Quick question, do you know why the Happy Valley has such a happy economy?  It's because students have lots of disposable income.  State College knows how to milk them for it, and it's time that Altoona figured it out too.  Unfortunately, some local supervisors are entirely too focused on penalizing all landlords (except let's be honest, students) for unruly tenant behavior at one mega-location.  

Should we give students a pass on unacceptable behavior?  No, absolutely not.  Just because some students engage in this behavior doesn't mean that Logan Township should punish every student that lives in off-campus housing, not to mention every future student that comes to Penn State Altoona.  If smaller landlords have to deal with the threat of extra penalties for renting to students, it's likely that they'll stop renting to students or raise rents.  Either way, students lose and the area loses.  Every extra dollar that students have to pay in rent is a dollar that they won't be spending at local businesses.  Logan Township and Altoona need to work on embracing Penn State Altoona along with its students.  It's best for Penn State Altoona, and it's best for the greater Altoona area.